Becoming Undone

So this is the very first post of this blog.  Somehow I thought the mood would be….grander.  Or at least more thoughtful.  At any rate, let me open this blog by just trying to summarize what it is I want to do here.

I’m an art lover.  And frankly, the more abstract, odd, performance-based or esoteric it is, the more I love it.  That’s not to say, though, that I love everything.  I think there is a lot of bad art masquerading as intellectual art, and I hate that.

I teach art history at the college level, and my career often has me at odds trying to explain to college students (both art and non-art majors) what all this modern and contemporary art is, why it is, and why it matters to them.  It seems if I point them in the direction of books or articles, they’re so over-written with big, obtuse words and needless critical jargon as to be un-readable, or they’re such intensely personal reflections as to be beyond objective consideration.  There has to be something in between.  There has to be a way to discuss, intelligently, contemporary art and to describe why it matters, because I believe, it does matter.

There’s a quote about being a theorist that says a theorist is one who is undone by theory.

In my graduate student career I learned what it was to be undone by theory, to have my ideas and certainty shaken (or at least challenged).  Although I don’t subscribe completely to the notion of art as theory or theory as art, I do think that art, when it works, works in the same way.  Art can undo you.  Looking at, experiencing, well done art is to be undone, even if just a little.  It gets in your head or in your heart and it unravels you just enough to experience something greater.  Bad art can mimic this effect or imply it, but good art, real art, just does it, and it’s magic.

What I want to do in this blog is to try to explain and to share this feeling with others.  This blog is for people who love contemporary art, for those who hate it, for those who are well learned in art history, for those who have no concept what I’m talking about.   This is a place for me to try to articulate what it is I think and feel when I look at good art.  If in so doing I can encourage, teach or entertain, all the better.

Ultimately, this blog is a journal about being undone by art.

Published by Dr. EMS

Art history professor and lover of all things contemporary arts. Teaching and living in Zhejiang province, China.

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